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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Hats for a cause

Empowerment. Strength. Unity. Can all these qualities be knitted into pink hats with kitty ears? The Pussyhat Project and the people volunteering their time to make these hats in Bellingham and across the country think so.

“Pussy hats” will don the heads of people around the country as they march for women’s rights. Marches will occur locally and in Washington D.C. Saturday Jan. 21, the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. Bellingham locals are sending their handmade hats to D.C. along with a note detailing which women’s issue they care about the most. Hats are being made to pass out at local marches as well.

Bellingham resident and former knitting instructor Kelly Krieger knew she wanted to be part of the national project as soon as she discovered it. Krieger said she felt inspired to help people create the hats as a bonding activity to bring people together within the community.

“I like [the hats] as a symbol of unity,” Krieger said. “I think it’s simple; it’s something we can all agree on that we’re objecting to.”

Krieger likes the subtle humor behind the Pussyhat project.

“I like [the hats] as a symbol of unity.”

Kelly Krieger 

“I think all of us participating in the marches can agree [Trump’s] misogynistic behavior is unacceptable, and I think this really makes that statement,” Krieger said.

With the help of local stores Apple Yarns and Northwest Yarns, Krieger set up weekly meetings for people to work on hats, which Hanna Ermi, an Apple Yarns employee, called “knit-ins.”

Ermi was recruited to teach knitting at these meetings. During the meets, people get together to knit, talk and knit some more, she said.

Ermi is working on her fifth pussy hat at the moment. She’s attending the women’s march in Seattle and will be passing out hats to others in the crowd.

Some people are put off by the name as “pussy” can often be used as a derogatory term, Ermi said.

The creators of the movement state they chose the loaded word for the project because they aim to “reclaim the term as a means of empowerment,” according to the Pussyhat Project website. Ermi agreed with their use of the name.

The hats Krieger’s group worked on will be sent to Washington D.C. and distributed to marchers. Krieger guessed they had sent several hundred already. She will be carrying extras when she attends the march with her daughter.

Northwest Yarns has been involved in the pussy hat movement in Bellingham. Echo Mae is one of the co-owners and a supporter of the project.

The store signed up to be a drop-off and pick-up location for the hats after discovering the project’s website.

Pussy hats not being sent to D.C. will be stored at Northwest Yarns for community members to pick up and wear during local marches. In exchange for hats, the store is asking patrons to donate to organizations in Bellingham that support women, such as Planned Parenthood and Lydia Place. 


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